PREVIEW: Westside Boys Look to Bounce Back Against Top Recruit, Thunderbirds

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PREVIEW: Westside Boys Look to Bounce Back Against Top Recruit, Thunderbirds

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The Warriors will look to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to Lincoln East against a tough opponent in Bellevue West. This will look to be another tough matchup as the Thunderbirds are ranked 3rd in the state and we were among the unanimous top-ranked team in the state during the preseason as voted by coaches. Although the team ended last weekend with a tough loss, they’re looking to rebound against the tough opponent.

“We need to learn that a loss is a loss and that we have to keep going because we’re a really good team and we have to respond well to adversity,” senior Chase Thompson said.

The Thunderbirds are led by Chucky Hepburn, who is dubbed the top recruit in the class of 2021 in Nebraska by 247 Sports. Head coach Jim Simons said that the Warriors will try to slow down Hepburn with a variety of looks.

“It’s going to take a group effort similar to some of the stuff we talked about before we played North Star when we played Donovan Williams,” Simons said. “We did a good job on Donovan of making things difficult for him and we have to do the same with team defense on Chucky.”

Thompson said he believes that won’t just be a tough matchup because of strong players for Bellevue West, but also strong coaching.

“Coach Woodard for Bellevue West is a great coach and he’s going to use every advantage he has against us,” Thompson said.

Thompson is averaging nearly 20 points and 9 rebounds per game, and attributes his early success to his teammates play.

“We’re working hard together and that’s what’s making us go,” Thompson said. “They’re happy with my success and I’m happy with the team’s success.”

Simons said that the key to the Bellevue West game will be setting an early defensive presence and pace.

“It’s going to be very critical for us to avoid mental lapses in [the Bellevue West] game,” Simons said. “They’re a team that is marked by their ability to go on runs and spurts throughout the game.”

Thompson said he agrees that gaining control and playing to the team’s strengths will allow them to be successful.

“We just need to make sure that we’re staying under control, we play our pace, we play our game, we continue to do what we’ve been doing and we’ll be fine,” Thompson said.

They will play on Friday, December 21 at 7:15 p.m. following the girls varsity game at 5:30 p.m. The game will be away at Bellevue West High School, and the theme is holiday.

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